House Parent Profile: Kevin Snyder

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Kevin Snyder is a Cultural History teacher, a coach for varsity boys and girls tennis, and a house parent. Originally from Medina, NY, Kevin graduated from Allegheny College, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and communication arts, and played on the varsity tennis team. Kevin’s extensive experience working with children includes several years working at Camp Seneca Lake in upstate New York in a variety of capacities.

For what reasons did you choose to become a house parent? I made the decision to focus on working in boarding schools when I was still in college. I feel that boarding schools provide some of the best education that a student can get. The learning is not just in the classroom; it is consistent throughout the day. Although at home I don’t teach a lot of history, I work with my students to help them develop good study habits, make good choices, and organize their lives. Also, the relationships that house parents form with their students are like no other. We cook and eat together, we watch sports and movies together, and we play board games together on the weekends. As a house parent, I learn more than I think is possible every year from the students in my house. I continue to be a house parent every year because I believe that it deepens my connection to the school and the student body.

How has house parenting helped you to be a more effective teacher? Teaching is all about building relationships with your students, and I’ve grown so much as a teacher at Ross because I’ve learned to connect. As a house parent, I am able to build relationships more effectively because I see my students not only in the classroom, but also at meals every day, on the weekends, and during extracurricular activities. I’m also more accessible to my students because I am on campus through dinnertime on most nights.

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as a house parent? There are a ton. One of my favorite highlights is when my house cooks together on Sunday evenings. We usually choose the menu together, and then a couple of us cook the meal together for the rest of the house. We come together as a community, and we try to cook meals from each of our students’ home countries from time to time. It is also rewarding to see the growth in students that I’ve house parented for multiple years. I’ve had the pleasure to be a house parent for 12th graders every year that I’ve been at Ross. Watching and helping them work through their final year of high school is an amazing process because they grow so much throughout the year. Getting to watch that up-close is exciting. The culmination of that work in June is typically one of my favorite days of the year.

What is one of the biggest challenges of being a house parent? Managing my time can be difficult. I’m not only a house parent; I teach Cultural History and coach varsity girls and boys tennis. Juggling all of those responsibilities, and doing them well, is by far the most challenging aspect of my life as a house parent.

What do you wish students understood about the life/role of a house parent? Students sometimes believe that no one has ever dealt with whatever is causing them to struggle. I tell the students in my house that there is always someone who has worked through that issue before. The faculty and staff at Ross are well-equipped to help them with anything that they might arise; all they need to do is ask for help.